• Thu. Nov 30th, 2023

New Massachusetts Bill Seeks to Restrict Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology


Nov 22, 2023

Massachusetts lawmakers are currently considering implementing restrictions on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement. Civil rights advocates have long criticized this technology, citing research that shows it disproportionately misidentifies people of color. Several cities in Massachusetts, such as Boston and Springfield, have already banned the use of facial recognition technology at the local level.

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss proposals that seek to limit law enforcement’s use of this technology. State Sen. Cynthia Creem, who is sponsoring a bill related to this issue, addressed concerns about the technology’s potential to facilitate government surveillance and its history of inaccurately identifying individuals in criminal investigations. The proposed bill would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before using facial recognition on an unidentified suspect, and they would have to inform criminal defendants if they were identified through the software. The bill also includes exceptions for emergency situations and seeks to centralize the use of facial recognition technology within a special State Police unit.

This proposal reflects the recommendations of the state’s Special Commission on Facial Recognition Technology, which was established as part of Massachusetts’ 2020 police reform law. While similar legislation passed in other states like Montana and Maine, there is still no definitive agreement on how best to regulate this technology at both local and national levels.

Crockford emphasized that enacting these recommendations into law is crucial given their potential impact on civil liberties and individual rights. He also highlighted how several states have already taken action against facial recognition technology, with some even banning it altogether.

The debate over facial recognition technology continues as more cities and states weigh its potential benefits against its risks. While proponents argue that it can help prevent crime and improve public safety, opponents fear it could be used for mass surveillance without proper oversight or safeguards.

As policymakers continue to examine this issue further, it remains uncertain how long it will take for meaningful regulations to be put in place at both local and national levels. But with growing concerns about privacy and individual freedom underpinning much of the debate around facial recognition technology, one thing is clear: this issue will not go away anytime soon.

In conclusion, while there may be some disagreement over how best to regulate facial recognition technology at both local and national levels, there is no denying that its impact on civil liberties must be closely examined before widespread adoption occurs.

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